Tuesday 16 January 2018
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Evidence that activity-based therapies and care can reduce the use of antipsychotics

Activity-based therapies and care have the potential to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia.

This is according to a study being presented at the Alzheimer's Disease International conference today (Friday 9 March 2012).

The study carried out by University of North Carolina looked at 107 people with dementia and monitored their agitation and apathy levels along with physical and cognitive function and leisure interests. Activity-based therapies were prescribed to people with agitation or to alert those with apathy at the time of day that they were most likely to experience behavioural symptoms. The study was carried out over a two week period. Participants with limited activity participation were found to be much more likely to demonstrate apathy, agitation, or a mix of apathy and agitation.

Alzheimer's Society comment:

'This research highlights the importance of good quality care for people with dementia as well as engaging them in stimulating activities. This adds to a wealth of evidence showing a lot can be done, without the use of medication, to help reduce agitation of a person with dementia.  It is estimated that 150,000 of the 180,000 people on antipsychotics are prescribed them inappropriately. These drugs double the risk of death and treble the risk of stroke yet have little benefit. It is essential we bring an end to this chemical cosh now.

It is vital to provide care staff and doctors with advice, guidance and training on alternative approaches to help them to avoid the use of antipsychotics. In particular, it is important for them to see the person behind the condition and understand what is causing their behaviour.'

Dr Anne Corbett
Research Manager
Alzheimer's Society